'PENTASYSTEM' TAKES A GIANT MUSICAL STEP VALLEY PAIR CRAFT NEXT-GENERATION GUITAR.Byline: Brent Hopkins Staff Writer
NORTH HOLLYWOOD - When asked for details on his company, Alex Gregory pleads the fifth.
Not in the legal sense, but in a musical one. Gregory, a classically trained maestro and instrument designer, has given up on the old system of guitar construction. His new design scheme, patented under the name Pentasystem, takes string instruments This is a list of string instruments categorized according to the technique used to produce sound, followed by a list of string instruments grouped by country or region of origin. ranging from guitar to sitar sitar (sĭtär`), fretted string instrument with a gourdlike body and a long neck, similar to the lute. It has from 3 to 7 gut strings, tuned in fourths or fifths (or both), and a lower course of 12 wire strings that vibrate sympathetically with , tunes them in fifths, gives them five strings and allows them to cover five octaves. And, with the confidence he perfected as a heavy-metal axeman The word axeman has a number of uses:
``Guitar is dead,'' he said, strumming at his self-created ``pentatar'' and whipping off a flurry of classical solos. ``There are millions of them in the world, so how many more do you need? This is fresh, man.''
A bold statement indeed, but Gregory's system does make sense once he shows it off. When compared with a traditional guitar, tuned in fourths, chords fall more naturally onto the fretboard fret·board
A fingerboard that is fitted with frets. and scales fall into logical patterns. Players accustomed to regular tunings need to adapt, but aficionados catch on quickly.
``Once you start playing these, you don't like the sound of guitars,'' said Wayne Prunty, a Las Vegas-based rock musician who's been playing the pentatar for two years. ``They just sound clearer. It's easier to play them, too, because everything lines up perfectly.''
Reared in Windsor, England There are three places called Windsor in England:
Then, in a manner that could have been lifted from a thousand blues songs, the inspiration materialized to tune the instruments in fifths.
``I just woke up one morning,'' he said. ``And I thought, Oh ... that's it! I had the idea in five minutes after trying to figure it out for 12 years.''
He went to work on the new system, suggesting the design of its striking multiplane headstock headstock
substantial wooden or metal fixed apparatus for restraining a cow by the neck in a crush, milking parlor or feed stalls. There is a bar or tongue which is swiveled at the bottom and can be opened at the top. to keep strings tense and in tune. With the help of bass player and friend Robert Calkin, prototypes soon took shape.
In 1998 they formed Pentasystem and by 1999, they had viable instruments and began shopping them around to dealers and manufacturers. The line encompasses deep tones with its pentabass to high, light ones on the pentalin, a fifth-tuned cousin to the mandolin mandolin (măn'dəlĭn`, măn`dəlĭn'), musical instrument of the lute family, with a half-pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and a variable number of strings, plucked with the fingers or with a plectrum. .
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Calkin, the ease of the system comes from its scientific organization - perhaps not evident to the average shred-happy guitarist, but the underlying principle of all music.
``(The Pentasystem) is more mathematically correct Mathematically Correct is a website created by educators, parents, citizens and mathematicians / scientists who are concerned about the direction of reform mathematics curricula based on NCTM standards. It is one of the most frequently cited websites in the Math wars. , so it's a lot easier,'' Calkin said. ``You can learn this in a third of a time. We actually had a major rock star tell us that he was afraid to play the pentabass because he thought he'd forget how to play his regular one.''
Though no major rock stars have come out to endorse the product yet, the duo thinks this will change very soon. A mass-production deal, currently being shopped to manufacturers, would bring the price down from its current $4,000-plus per instrument. As early as next year, Gregory predicts, the instruments will be in wide distribution, with a list price in the $800 range.
To get where they want to be, with every kid asking for a new pentatar for their birthday and guitars relegated to music history museums, Gregory and Calkin have their work cut out for them. But, the maestro asserts, this shouldn't be a problem.
Then again, with his skills, he says, anyone could do it.
``It's very unusual that I have the design skills, the orchestration orchestration
Art of choosing which instruments to use for a given piece of music. The sections of the orchestra historically were separate ensembles: the stringed instruments for indoors, the woodwind instruments for outdoors, the horns for hunting, and trumpets and drums ability and the chops, too,'' he smiled. ``If you had another musician with my skills, which is rare, he'd probably come out with some pretty amazing a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. stuff, too.''
(1 -- color) Maestro Alex Gregory, left, and Robert Calkin have patented a new tuning method for stringed instruments, called Pentasystem, and plan to turn the musical world on its ear.
(2 -- 3 -- color) The headstock - which helps keep the strings tense and in tune - of the Pentasystem pentatar is multiplanar. At left, visitors to www.pentasystem.com can get a CD sampling of music made with Pentasystems musical instruments.
Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News